When Your Therapist, Counselor, Doctor, Dentist or Other Health Professional Does Not Understand Dissociative Identity Disorder

By Grantley Morris

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It is not unusual for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) either to be unable to find a therapist/counselor (for simplicity Iíll use the term therapist) who is not experienced with treating D.I.D., or for people to have established a rapport with such a therapist, and wish to continue with him/her. Even if less than ideal, a therapist who has little understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder can be quite valuable.

For an open-minded therapist, treating someone with D.I.D. for the first time can be a priceless learning experience, as well as helpful for the client.

Any good therapist should be able to help a wide range of people, including children, and a significant portion of helping someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder is like treating several different people who all happen to share the same body. If you have D.I.D., however, you should inform the therapist that you might suddenly need to be regarded as a completely different person for a while. In fact, any professional you see (even a dentist or doctor) needs to be alerted to the possibility that you might unexpectedly switch to a different alter. That means that at any moment you might have the same body and voice but act quite out of character (angry, swearing, afraid, confused, childlike or whatever), or suddenly not know what, for you, is basic information. Without such a warning, a therapist would not only be understandably confused but could needlessly upset the alter by, for example, mildly rebuking the alter for doing or saying something that, by your usual standards, is stupid or inappropriate.

Even if it has never yet occurred, a dramatic switch is more likely to be triggered during therapy or some medical procedure than in everyday life. Hospitals can be particularly triggering and traumatic for people with D.I.D. Increased likelihood of a switch includes dental visits, physical therapy, scans, blood tests, and so on. So, sometime or another, it could happen that you are ready to go home after such a visit and an alter is in charge of your body who is not good at driving or navigating, or does not know precisely where you live, or even acts in a way that increases your chance of being assaulted on the way home.

If an adult friend is unable to take you home, hereís a suggestion as to how to increase your safety. Before the session, leave your car keys and wallet with the receptionist or medical professional and ask for these items to be returned to you at the end of the session only after you correctly answer several questions. Hereís a suggested list you leave with the receptionist to ask you (for the receptionistís sake, include correct answers):

    1. Whatís your name?

    2. Whatís your home address?

    3. What year is it?

    4. How old are you?

    5. Do you feel safe and confident about driving (or whatever method of transport you use) home?

Ideally, a therapist should have somewhere private you could go to regain your composure after a therapy session. You will not always need such a place, but it is not impossible that at some time you find yourself sobbing for a while after the session ends. It might be wise to take a favorite toy with you to comfort a little alter, but if you are going home alone you, by the time you leave the little alter needs to be inside and a capable adult part of you in control of your body.

Related Pages

God, Counselors & Inner Healing

For much more insight and help, see:
Christian Resources: Index of Help for Dissociative Identity Disorder


Personalized support
Grantley Morris: healing@net-burst.net

© 2011, 2019 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.


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